WORCESTER -- If good things are supposed to come to those who wait, something extra-special really should have been on the other side of the 75-minute break between Papa Roach and Guns N' Roses Wednesday night at the DCU Center in Worcester .
Instead, Axl Rose and the latest septet of co conspirators he's calling GNR gave a performance that was often as frustrating as it was exhilarating.
The set was generous in terms of time (two hours and 15 minutes) and content (almost all the familiar hits), but it was nearly KO'd by a patchy sound mix, Rose's patchier vocals, and instrumental solos that, while impressive, brought the show to a near stop again and again.
At times, Rose -- looking much fitter than he did in the band's 2002 outing -- was the king of the world. While his roar was occasionally difficult to hear, he was on top of his game in terms of energy. And he joked about Britney and K- Fed's breakup and Monday's canceled show in Portland, Maine. (He thanked the Worcester fire marshals for allowing the earsplitting pyro blasts and flames that were reportedly behind the Portland cancellation.)
He strained to hit high notes on songs like "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "November Rain," or to be heard over the locomotive thunder of the band. "I hope you can hear me, because I can't," he said, complaining about the sound mix.
Keyboardist Dizzy Reed's instrumental take on the Rolling Stones' "Angie," and the guitar duet by Robin Finck and Richard Fortus on Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful " had moments of inspired noodling, but ultimately these solo turns felt like listening to sound check.
New tunes from the ever-forthcoming "Chinese Democracy" album -- more than a decade in the making -- were unveiled. Sweeping piano-pop ballad "The Blues" and muscular rocker "Better" fared best alongside still- robust old favorites. These included acoustic meditation "Patience" and screamer "My Michelle," sung as a duet with deliriously histrionic opener Sebastian Bach.
While Bach went on far too long in his slot, middle band Papa Roach played a compact set of beefy yet melodic rap-rock.